2020 GFD 🏆 Awards

2nd Award: Approaching Sanitation by Yamuna River Project Research Studio

The stretch of the Yamuna River which runs from the Wazirabad Barriage to the Okhla Barriage through New Delhi, is the most contaminated part of the river. This pollution, which constitutes this as a dead river, is almost entirely contributed by human feces, industrial effluents, and irrigation chemicals. This is a critical issue due to the growing population in New Delhi and a lack of clean water to support them.

2nd Award- Global Future Design Awards 2020
Firm | Yamuna River Project Research Studio
Architect/Designer | Darcy Engle
Category | Public Building Concept
Team | Darcy Engle
Country | United States
Photographer/Copyright | ©Yamuna River Project Research Studio

©Yamuna River Project Research Studio

A goal of the studio was not simply to gain an understanding of how to clean the water, but how to prevent pollutants from entering the water to begin with. The pollutant of focus for the project was human waste. A primary reason there is so much fecal matter in the Yamuna River is due to a lack of well-constructed and reliable infrastructure between the starting point of the toilets and the end point of sewage treatment plants. However, a secondary reason is that although the government has an initiative to install 75 million toilets by 2019, there is still a large portion of the population defecating in the open.

The last recorded data on open defecation states that 700,000 people or four percent of the population of Delhi still defecates in the open. This number may seem low, but there is reason to believe that not all those who have access to restrooms are actually using the public facilities. This is due to vandalism, lack of cleaning, broken plumbing, safety concerns, hours of operation, and the distance they are from where the users call home.

In response to these issues, the research conducted throughout the semester began by identifying locations within Delhi where there is the greatest need for bathroom infrastructure. In looking at these locations, scales and types of bathrooms were designed for the unique urban scenarios which appeared in these locations. For example, some bathrooms were designed to be affixed to existing rooftops in dense urban villages, whereas others were designed for underused parks and vacant lots. In studying conditions of current public bathroom typologies and the process or culture of taking the daily trip to a public bathroom, specificity in design of the proposed interventions emerged. The new catalog of typologies layers critical programs together, offers flexibility to how the spaces can be used, has a porosity which allows for light and ventilation to flow into the space, and a gradation of public to private spaces for men and women.

The overarching goal of the designed interventions is to provide new variations of semi-public to public bathrooms which solve issues of the current public bathrooms in Delhi and bring them closer to those people who need them most.